Managing Images and Videos in Joomla! 1.5: Part 2

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Using video files

Video files are generally large due to the amount of content they contain and their length. It’s beyond the scope of our article to describe them in detail, but in basic terms, they are a linear sequence of still images placed together to create a sequence of movement, usually accompanied by an audio track. Original video files are compressed using a codec to produce a compressed video file. The various codecs produce different results for file size, quality, and export.

Video files play in the browser by downloading the data through the Internet, progressively streaming it so the movie begins to play before the whole file has downloaded. Audio files work in a similar way, but are often not as large.

The final quality of a video also depends on the method used to capture it and how it’s stored. The better the quality of the camera, the better the result. If you want to learn more about video, Wikipedia has a page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_formats.

Just like anything else, there are pros and cons of adding videos to your website. YouTube alone has proven there is a strong market for a more visual medium. However, there are still many people who prefer text-based content as well. Consider whether adding a video to your site will enhance your user’s experience.

  • Is the material promotional or instructional? Is the content better demonstrated than explained?
  • Video material can broaden your target audience. Many people prefer watching a video online to reading lengthy bodies of text.
  • Videos aren’t that great for search engine optimization. Consider adding a transcript to the page as well, in order to increase the ability to search.

Choosing the best video file format

Video played through the Internet requires a media player, which acts as an interface between the video file and the browser. These days most Internet users have one embedded within their browser. Popular versions include:

  • QuickTime, a player created by Apple
  • Windows Media Player
  • WINAMP
  • Real Player, developed by Real Networks
  • Adobe Flash Player

The following are some of the video file types that can be played through your website using third-party media players:

  • .wmv files are a popular format developed by Microsoft and which come bundled within the Internet Explorer software package and are, therefore, preinstalled on Windows PCs. This is a format good for movies with movement within them. This format works with Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, and another called VLC Player. This format isn’t very compatible with Mac or Linux computer users.
  • .mov files are a QuickTime video platform extension that also plays back on the Windows operating system. The Apple QuickTime movie player software can be easily downloaded from Apple at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/. While not many browsers have the QuickTime media player installed, this format does provide very high quality video. You can always provide a link to the URL to download the software in order to play the video.
  • .avi files are often the format of videos with smaller dimensions, played back through a website. They are a container for audio and video files (hence the name!). They can sometimes be quite large in file size, depending on the codec used to compress the video footage. They are a mainstream format.
  • .swf and .flv videos are excellent for web video streaming and can also include interactive features. Most Mac and PCs have the Flash Shockwave Player installed; however, it can be downloaded from http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/. Take note of the requirements for your individual operating system and browser preferences.

Keep the following in mind when considering a video for your website:

  • Ensure the video is succinct and the file size as small as possible. Even with a high speed download, time is still required to fully download the complete file.
  • Keeping the video between one to three minutes long and the file size under five megabytes

  • The more the movement in a video, the larger the file size.
  • Consider whether the video really enhances the message. Viewers are only interested in material that is useful to them and will resent consuming their download resources on a video that holds no value for them.
  • The larger the file size, the longer it takes to upload.
  • Consider your audience’s data rate. Do they have high speed downloads or are there some with dial-up connections?

Video files are generally large due to the amount of content they contain. They stream (streaming is the way the Internet transfers multimedia information) through the data so the video will begin playing before it has fully downloaded itself into the browser, allowing it to be played back as quickly as possible. Audio files work in a similar way, but are not usually big files.

There are various video file formats available and most website users have a player to see them already contained within the browser. Many users have QuickTime, a player created by Apple (that also runs on PCs) and Real Player, developed by Real Networks.

Videos require a special plugin to play them through an article on your site, once you have uploaded it. Alternatively, you can embed a link from the popular YouTube site (http://www.youtube.com/). We’ll look at how to do both in relation to the Party People website.

Uploading a video

We’ll upload a new video, much the same way we would upload an image, to a new subfolder called videos within the Party People website. The steps are as follows:

  1. Navigate to the Media Manager.
  2. Select the stories folder and type videos into the Files input box.
  3. Click Create Folder.
  4. Select the new videos folder icon; then click the Browse button to choose the video from our desktop computer.
  5. Click Start Upload.

Now we have a video file ready to be inserted into an article. The Party People website has the popular AllVideos plugin installed to do this.

Updating videos—AllVideos plugin

This is another neat plugin that works in much the same way as the Simple Image Gallery, a stablemate from this team of developers.

If you don’t have it installed and you would like to present videos on your site, ask your developer to install it for you or refer to the developers website http://www.joomlaworks.gr/content/view/35/41/ for instructions.

Our Party People website has a .mov video on the Products and Services page, which we will update.

To update the video display:

  1. Navigate to the Article Manager through the top menu and open theOur Services Include… article.
  2. Change the name of the video file between the { } and {/} tags within the text editor to the new filename. Depending on the format of the video being presented, the code should look like this:
      {mov}promoVideo{/mov}
  3. This code displays a QuickTime movie within the article.
  4. Save the changes. The following screenshot shows us how the video will look in context.

Note that you do not need to include the format extension at the end of the filename, as the tag surrounding the name addresses this.

Managing Images and Videos in Joomla! 1.5: Part 2

Changing to a different video file and format

The AllVideos plugin supports a number of video file formats and the developer’s website lists them all at http://www.joomlaworks.gr/content/view/35/41/.

We’ll change the video we just linked to a different one which is in the .wmv format. The steps are as follows:

  1. Navigate to the Article containing the video presentation.
  2. Change the tag between the { } braces to reflect the new file type, taking care not to delete any of the symbols. For example:
      {wmv}updatedServicesVideo{/wmv}
  3. Save the changes to your article.

Managing Images and Videos in Joomla! 1.5: Part 2

You should take care to avoid rearranging any of the formatting within the code, as this will prevent the movie from playing. That is, don’t add any extra spaces, colons, commas, and so on.

 

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